The greatest regret of my life … two people I could never convince .... my Muslim friend Mohamed Ali Jinnah and my own son Harilal Gandhi.
This is a story of Father and Son relationship, a story from Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi and his eldest son, Harilal. A story of a father who struggling to resolve the destinies of his country and his son; a story that kept from the world.
As a father to his eldest son, Harilal, Gandhi tried to implement his value in his family, by refused to put his son into formal education, to give his son the lesson of life, even though it makes his son’s heart broken.
He knew that his son wanted to be like him, a barrister and wants to get higher education in London, but Gandhi refused to give that opportunity to his son, instead he gave that opportunity to somebody else’s. The reason of his rejection was because he knew that his son not even able to pass his matriculation class, without even realized that the failure was due to him, Gandhi, value in education. Harilal never get his proper formal education just because Gandhi has his own value.
The seeds that Gandhi plant which at the end could not win his son’s soul. “He maybe the father of the nation, but he is not a father for me.”
Even when he realized that his son was against him, refused to take his offer to be with him in Gandhi’s early stage as a politician, Gandhi’s still view it not as a failure, instead he was proud that his son has the strength to fight for his own taught. Gandhi didn’t view it as a protest from his son.
“Hindu – Muslim unity is the foundation on which we have to build a free India” was his statement to unite India. The statement that’s been used by Harilal to shown his rebellion to his father.
“Harilal or Abdullah Gandhi, is one person,” his advice to his wife Kasturba when he heard the news of Harilal new religion.
“How long can we go on protecting our children even in crime ? What kind of a society do we wish to create ?”, when Gandhi insisted his friend to put Harilal in jail when Gandhi’s friend being cheated by Harilal.
Gandhi is human, he is not a saint, even though his disciple believed that his way of life, his value, were more than a human.
It must be sad for Gandhi and Harilal, have to bring both love and hate hand in hand, together, in their life. Trying to fix their relationship in every second but end up with failure.
I could not say that all Gandhi’s believe in educate his son were wrong or correct. I also could not say that Harilal were right or wrong. I couldn’t.
I only can say that Gandhi’s failed to differentiate his role as a Father of his son and his role as a Father of his nation. Gandhi’s failed to express his deepest love to his son, love of a father not love from Indian freedom movement and social reformer.
As Harilal, he also failed to understand his father’s value of life, failed to understand that his father love him more than anyone in the world, that his father always forgiven him even though he humiliated his father.
But as people always say that behind the successful man there is a woman who helped him develop and motivated him, showed him how to go forward, in Gandhi’s life, there is a woman, her name is Kasturba, Gandhi’s wife and Harilal’s mother.
The love and loyalty of a Hindu wife to her husband and her love for her son, reflected the quotation above. The love that made his son reconverting to Hinduism as a penance.
“All his long live Mahatma Gandhi .. this adulation .. it is only because of my mother,”
Harilal’s final love expression to his mother before finally drinking himself to death.
It’s tragic, I felt pity but that’s the reality of human being life’s. All of us has our own dark story in our life, realized it or not, that dark story haunted our life’s.
We have to be able to fight that dark story of our own life, so we would be able to face the world and not be haunted by it.
Suddenly I remember my doctor’s advice, “Don’t ever try to dictate your daughter, you have to win her soul. And to win her soul, you have to be able to shown her the value of life, and make her a responsible person for her own self.”